How to Make a Sensory Room at Home
Sensory-friendly spaces are quiet, stimulant-lacking areas that allow children to calm down or self-regulate. While sensory rooms (and Snoezelen rooms or multi-sensory rooms) are typically found in schools and therapy facilities, creating a sensory-friendly area at home will benefit your child’s sense and self-regulation development.
What is a Sensory Room?
Sensory rooms, also known as multi-sensory rooms or Snoezelen rooms, are specially-curated indoor spaces which are designed to aid in sense development; they can either awaken or calm the senses. Sensory rooms are most often found in school and outpatient facilities.
At home, a sensory room is a safe and quiet place (and it doesn’t have to be a dedicated room!) where children can go to calm down or regulate emotions and behaviors.
Either calming or startling lights, sounds, textures, and scents can be used in sensory rooms—depending on what the child using the room needs.
The Snoezelen Room was developed by Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul in the 1970s with the goal of growing sensory enjoyment in a calm atmosphere. Snoezelen rooms can be used for people of any age to provide a relaxed environment.
For young children, Snoezelen rooms are used to foster sensory play—an essential aspect of growth and development.
How to Use a Sensory Room
Sensory rooms are set up to either alert or calm the sensory system. The combination of stimuli is fun to explore with your sensory seeker or avoider.
Sensory/multi-sensory rooms can be customized depending on sensitivities to lighting, tactile input, sound levels, and scents.
Some or all of the following items can be found in a multi-sensory room:
- Assorted aromas (smell)
- Soft or bright lights (visual)
- Calming or loud rhythmic sounds (auditory)
- Soft cushions
- Suspended equipment (vestibular)
- Textured walls (tactile)
- Body socks and more! (proprioceptive)
How to Make Your Own Sensory Room
Building an at-home sensory room is easier than you might think. We’ll walk through the steps here, and your safe sensory space will be ready before you know it.
- Pick a quiet place. Your sensory room, corner, or area needs to be a safe and quiet place where your child can go to calm down. Ensure that this place does not contain hazards such as sharp objects or corners and that it doesn’t have outlets, chords, or electronics. The space needs to be completely safe for your child to work through his or her emotions.
- Choose calming colors. If you will be painting the room, only use neutral or calming colors. Gray, beige, pastels, and cool colors (like blue or green) are best. Avoid very bright colors!
- Install soft lighting. Set up a lamp with a low-wattage bulb or string fairy lights. Focus on calming, soft lighting and avoid very bright or fluorescent lighting.
Sensory Room Ideas
To turn your new calming, quiet space into a customized multi-sensory room, consider which sensitivities your children have and build out the room (or space) based on those needs.
Here are some needs to consider as you collect sensory room ideas:
Touch: A wide variety of textured toys are available, and household items work too! We have details below on how to build a sensory/tactile wall or sensory box.
Scent: We can alert or calm the sense of smell with an aromatherapy diffuser.
Additional sensory room items:
You may also want to include crash pads to ensure that your child can move around throughout the room without getting hurt, pillows or a bean bag chair to provide a comfortable place to sit, a hooded swivel chair to provide vestibular input and relaxation, and body socks for tactile stimulation and increased body awareness.
How to Build a Sensory Board
To build a DIY sensory board or wall, start with a large piece of plywood or a cork board. Collect items of varying textures. Now it’s time to get creative and have fun with your glue gun!
Here are some items to consider adding to your sensory board:
Small fuzzy balls
Crinkled up foil
How to Build a Sensory Box
Create your own sensory box by cutting an arm hole in the middle of a cardboard box and filling it with feathers, beans, beads, pompoms, hard pasta, cotton balls, marbles, easter eggs, putty, play foam, or buttons.
You can swap different items in and out of the box to keep things interesting for your child.
With this post, you should have all the information you need to build an in-home sensory room or space. If you have additional questions, please comment below!
If you are seeking developmental services for your child, please contact us.
Written by Anna Gersie, OTS in collaboration with fieldwork supervisor Gail Spina, OTR/L Sunny Days Sunshine Center
References:Kier in Sight Archives on Unsplash
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